MILWAUKEE -- An act of kindness by first baseman Joey Votto last week gave a dying man, and Reds fan, a final thrill.
Jeff Crews, who was from Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, had terminal brain cancer and was invited by Votto to the Reds' July 2 game vs. the Giants. The entire family was given field passes to watch batting practice and meet Votto and some of the team. Votto chatted and gave Crews one of his bats.
"Jeff literally had to hold his chin up because it kept falling down in disbelief at what we were experiencing," the Crews' family blog said. "Dusty Baker came over for autographs and a picture, as well as Todd Frazier. Then the moment came when Joey walked over to meet us. … Joey Votto couldn't have been a nicer, more humble, and down to earth guy."
Crews and his family watched the game in seats behind the Reds dugout. It was the game when Homer Bailey threw his no-hitter. Crews and his wife happened to be in Pittsburgh for their anniversary and watched Bailey throw his first no-hitter vs. the Pirates last season.
On July 4, just two days after his time with Votto, Crews passed away.
"He was so lucid when I was talking with him that when I had heard he died two days after, it was a bit of a surprise to me," Votto said on Tuesday. "He was really fantastic to talk to, a very nice man and his family. It just seemed like a normal meeting. They were happy to come to the ballpark, happy to watch the game, happy to meet me, happy to watch batting practice. Homer threw a no-hitter. It was just a really nice day all the way around for any Reds fan.
"I think it meant a lot to the family. It meant something to him. I'm grateful and very humbled to have been a part of that."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.